The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

We Stand in the Gap

On May 1st, 2017, posted in: Community, Industry, Uncategorized by

man standing in darkened roomIt is all about giveback. That’s what CDFIs do. In a metropolitan area rife with the trials and tribulations of everyday living, isn’t it good to know that somebody has your back?

The financial services sector is not highly respected or trusted by many. This lack of trust is exacerbated by those who call home the stressed and distressed parts of our community. That’s where a CDFI steps in and provides a strong sense of community and care for those in need of financial services.

It is our pleasure to serve in such a role. SLCCU is committed to providing for our friends and neighbors inside areas more commonly known as “financial services deserts.”

So when asked this question, this is how I responded. I hope you enjoy.

 

You mentioned that you are a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution). What comes with that designation? 

By our status as a CDFI, we primarily exist to serve communities that may find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to financial services. Our mission is entrenched in creating opportunity for those who are historically marginalized. 

The traditional banking model is to provide return to shareholders. We get it.  Profitability is much harder to find in small-dollar loans and checking and saving accounts that hover near zero. As a result, and as we discussed, facilities are scarce, qualifications are stringent and gateways to entry difficult. In comes SLCCU as a not-for-profit, financial cooperative credit union to “stand in the gap.” 

As an example, you may know SLCCU restored the legacy of the only minority-owned bank in St. Louis, Gateway Bank (Union & Natural Bridge) one year ago in March. This is not an area of town clamoring with banking opportunities. We “stood in the gap” as a CDFI and opened over 2,000 checking and savings accounts, performed nearly 250,000 transactions between two ATMs, drive-thru and lobby transactions. and made over $1M in small-dollar loans — all in our first year.  That’s what a CDFI does. And that’s just one example. We’re in Wellston, Pagedale, Jennings, Ferguson, at the Grace Hill hub at the Water Tower and in Kingdom House in South St. Louis, just to name a few of our locations.   

What do we need to be successful? Investment. We need community development banking to make its way back into the classroom. We need government funding to be increased, not decreased as proposed by an early Trump budget. We need banks that need to satisfy CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) requirements to make investments. And we need socially responsible, caring people like these in the audience today to use us for their loans and investments in order that we can return the earnings back to the community versus paying a shareholder somewhere. 

 

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